RogerBW's Blog

Hugo 2014: Editor, Short Form 30 July 2014

These are my thoughts on the remaining Hugo packet submissions for Best Editor, Short Form. If you're planning to vote, you may wish not to read these notes until you have done so. There will also be spoilers here.

John Joseph Adams: The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination.

Neil Clarke: the submission is Clarkesworld 78, with just three pieces of fiction (Aliette de Bodard's The Weight of a Blessing, rather good but fragmentary; A.C. Wise's The Last Survivor of the Great Sexbot Revolution, just fragmentary; and Genevieve Valentine's 86, 87, 88, 89, clearly trying to make a Point). Clarkesworld calls itself a "science fiction and fantasy magazine" rather than anything narrower, so I'm going to have to score it down for insufficient variety: all three of these stories are of the no real beginning, only a vague attempt at an end, don't care about details, vaguely arty style which is apparently popular right now, and if you're putting together an issue of a general-purpose magazine I think it's appropriate to mix that with other styles.

Ellen Datlow: twelve short stories, ranging from the thoroughly enjoyable (Dennis Danvers' All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead, Pat Cadigan's The Christmas Show, Garth Nix's Fire Above Fire Below, all of which make me want to read more not only by this author but in this specific universe) via the purely dreamlike (Jedediah Berry's A Window or a Small Box) and the facile (Veronica Schanoes' Burning Girls) to the uninspired and mechanical (Priya Sharma's Rag and Bone). But this isn't an issue of a magazine, or an anthology: it's just stories which (presumably) have appeared in things Datlow has edited. It's impossible to detect her influence here; all I can vote for is whether I liked the stories, i.e. on Datlow's ability as a commissioning editor. On balance, most didn't really appeal. Nonetheless, I think this collection would have made an interesting anthology representing the broad field of current spec fic, simply because of the huge range. (Possible a better one than Fearsome Journeys.)

Jonathan Strahan: Fearsome Journeys.

Sheila Williams: the submission is Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2013. A mixed bag, but including some very solid material (Ian Creasey' The Unparallel'd Death-Defying Feats of Astoundio, Escape Artist Extraordinaire and Jay O'Connell's That Universe We Both Dreamed Of are the standouts for me), far better than last time I read Asimov's in the 1990s when Gardner Dozois was still in charge. Perhaps more to the point, as well as the two solid hits, there are no complete misses. Definitely the standout entry here.

For voting, Williams and then Datlow are at the top of my list, with the rest fairly undifferentiated below.

Addendum: Hugo voting order was Datlow, Adams, Strahan, Williams, Clarke. I guess there's still an audience for rotefant.

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